Check out this exceptionally fine speech http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ronald-maxwell/on-the-occasion-of-presid_b_212674.html by film director Ron Maxwell (Gettysburg, Gods and Generals), who refused to allow William (“inherited utility monopoly wealth means never having to say you’re sorry”) Ayers & Co. to bully him out of speaking at the Confederate Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery.

Eugene Genovese, the great Marxist historian of slavery and the Old South, has said that no man should be asked to spit on his ancestors’ graves. I am a descendant of Union soldiers and a philosophical/political kinsman of the anarchist abolitionists and the Liberty Party (as well as the Peace Whigs and civil-liberties Democrats) of the era, and I am disgusted by the anti-Confederate remembrance witch-hunts and the efforts by grim humorless ideologues to impose upon us all one single official view of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

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Bill Kauffman
Bill Kauffman was born on November 15 (also the birthday of Bobby Dandridge) in the otherwise forgettable year of 1959. He was an all-star Little League shortstop for the Lions Club Cubs but soon thereafter his talents eroded. After an idyllic childhood in his ancestral home of Batavia, New York, birthplace of Anti-Masonry, he was graduated from Batavia High School in 1977. He earned, more or less, a B.A. from the University of Rochester in 1981 and went therefrom to the staff of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the only dairy farmer in the U.S. Senate. Two and a half years later he left Moynihan’s staff a bohemian Main Street anarchist who loved the Beats, the New England transcendentalists, early 20th century local colorists (Sarah Orne Jewett his Maine gal), cowpunk music, and the crazy old America. Neil Diamond and Karen Carpenter, too, but don’t tell anyone. He bummed around out west for a while, sleeping in bus stations and writing derivative poetry in Salt Lake City flophouses (nah, he’s not a Mormon, just a BYU fan) before an ill-starred year in graduate school at the UR. He took a seminar with Christopher Lasch and thought on it. In the spring of 1985 he flew west to become an assistant editor with Reason magazine. He had great fun in Santa Barbara with that crew of congenial editors drinking far into the night at Eddie Van Cleeve’s Sportsman’s Lounge, but in ’86 he flew east to become the magazine’s Washington editor. Always homesick, Kauffman persuaded his lovely and talented wife Lucine, a Los Angelena, to move back to Batavia in 1988 in what he called a “one-year experiment”—the year to be measured, apparently, in Old Testament terms. They’re still there—or, more accurately, five miles north in Elba (apt name for an exile!), where Lucine is Town Supervisor. She may well be the highest-ranking Armenian-American elected official in the country, at least until the voters of California send Cher to the U.S. Senate. Take that, Turks! Lucine and Bill have a daughter, Gretel, 17, who writes and acts and plays piano and French horn. Their lab mutt, Victoria, whose tail graces the accompanying photo, is now departed, to their sorrow, but a cat, Duffy, darts in and out of the house when the mood strikes. Bill is the author of nine books: Every Man a King (Soho Press/1989), a novel, which was recently rescued from the remainder bin by a New York Sun article proclaiming it the best political satire of the last century (the Sun thereupon set); Country Towns of New York (McGraw-Hill/1994), a travel book about God’s country; America First! Its History, Culture and Politics (Prometheus/1995), a cultural history of isolationism which Benjamin Schwarz in the Atlantic called the best introduction to the American anti-imperialist tradition; With Good Intentions? Reflections on the Myth of Progress in America (Praeger/1998), his worst-seller, a sympathetic account of critics of highways, school consolidation, a standing army, and the Siren Progress; Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette: A Mostly Affectionate Account of a Small Town’s Fight to Survive (Henry Holt/2003; Picador ppb. 2004), a memoirish book about his hometown which won the 2003 national “Sense of Place” award from Writers & Books; Look Homeward, America: In Search of Reactionary Radicals and Front-Porch Anarchists (ISI/2006), which the American Library Association named one of the best books of 2006 and which won the Andrew Eiseman Writers Award; Ain’t My America: The Long Noble History of Antiwar Conservatism and Middle American Anti-Imperialism (Henry Holt/ Metropolitan/2008), which Barnes & Noble named one of the best books of 2008; Forgotten Founder: Drunken Prophet: The Life of Luther Martin (ISI/2008), a biography of a brilliant dipsomaniacal Anti-Federalist who warned us this was gonna happen; and Bye Bye, Miss American Empire (Chelsea Green/2010), a cheerful account of dissolution. Bill is a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and a columnist for The American Conservative. He has written for numerous publications, including The American Scholar, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, The Nation, Chronicles, the Independent and The Spectator of London, Counterpunch, Orion, University Bookman, and Utne Reader. He is vice president of the Genesee County Baseball Club, which owns the Batavia Muckdogs of the New York-Penn Baseball League. Come summertime, he can be found in the 3rd base bleachers at Dwyer Stadium. He is also active in the officerless (of course) John Gardner Society. Bill is more handsome than the photo on this site would suggest. See books written by Bill Kauffman.

9 COMMENTS

  1. The goons at the Re-Education Camp have been contacted. Anyone wearing kakis and a blue button-down and who likes to crack a Genny of an evening should go immediately into hiding.

  2. Bill, Thanks for reminding us that there are still American’s who know and respect our history.
    With the obligatory acknowledgement of the nastiness of African chattel slavery, there is some some, still place in the soul of real Americans that glows with pride at the amazing achievements of the Army of Northern Virginia and its commanding general, Robert E. Lee in its efforts to repulse “those people”.

  3. Bill,

    Thanks for pointing out this speech. It is so sad to see such close minded, thought police in our nation’s centers of “learning”.

    Tom

  4. […] sculptor of the monument.  It’s also a really nice reminder that there is no virtue, to paraphrase Eugene Genovese, in spitting on the graves of one’s ancestors.  Go read the whole […]

  5. Nothing so upsets the oh-so-enlightened Leftist with institutional, media or family backing , than someone questioning the ongoing damnation of the entire Confederate Cause even though they know about as much as a fart in a gawdamned hailstorm about it. The Leftist , always tut-tutting, does not abide any other form of tut -tutting, particularly if it aint sainted by the “You will Love me and everything I do or else” Squad.

    Blow up armored cars but under no circumstances should we commemorate Lee, who Lincoln offered command of the Army of The Potomac before Lee declined and went South to his Home.

    Somebody should write the story of our blue-blood bomb throwing anarchists from the 60’s. They slid unctiously right into the establishment of today, like a well lubricated…well, never mind.

  6. Bravo, man. I have some slave-owning Confederate soldiers in my ancestry, and no matter how repugnant slavery is, I won’t disown them. Part of maintaining a connection with the past is accepting it.

    I thought Gods and Generals was under-rated.

  7. Bill,

    Thank you. Ron Maxwell’s speech was right on target!

    Fortunately, the memory of the Civil War and of both the Union and Confederate dead will be etched in the minds of Americans for many generations; thanks to Mr. Maxwell.

    Bill Ayers? He’s a criminal who shouldn’t be received in polite company; let alone by the POTUS. Perhaps that says more about Mr. Obama than Mr. Ayers. Wouldn’t it be nice if BHO threw Ayers under the bus, like he’s done to so many others….Ah! We can dream! 😉

  8. Bill,

    Thanks for the post. I also have Yankee roots, but I have come to view the War Between the States as clearly being a war of Northern Aggression. The Southern States (as sovereign State-Peoples) had (and still have) legitimate rights to secede that were (and still are) constitutionally authorized under the category of reserved powers, which are referenced in the Tenth Amendment. Moreover, some States originally ratified the Constitution (and entered the Union) under the condition that they could later elect to withdraw from the Union (see ratification statements of New York, Virginia, and Rhode Island). Their ratification statements were accepted as legally sanctioning the Constitution, so their conditional terms of contract were also tacitly accepted. In so revising the contract to include secession for themselves, the right of secession also was (or, at least, became) a reserved constitutional right for the other State-peoples as co-equal sovereigns with same reserved powers. The alternative organic theory of Union articulated by Marshall, Story, Webster, and Lincoln was largely a revisionist myth that Lincoln as president, in turn, employed to save the Federal Government’s and the Republican Party’s (and, hence, his own) power over the Southern people and any other State or region of States that might choose to secede. It is a travesty that the Northern States were co-opted into brutally invading the Southern States based on Lincoln’s specious constitutional theory of union. Unfortunately, it may be true that the Northern States were all too willing to participate in this farce due to their boiling prejudice against the South, which many Northerners self-righteously viewed as a “hostile slave power” (even though white-supremacy and racism was rampant throughout the Northern States as well). Even more sad is the fact that many Northerners still have this prejudice against the South, even though it was their armies that pillaged the South and made economically destitute for decades afterwards.

    Best Regards,

    Cato

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